Perth, Nov 8 (AFP) Captain Alicia Molik Friday gambled with Ajla Tomljanovic instead of Samantha Stosur to play singles for Australia in the Fed Cup final against France, with the debutant opening the tie against Kristina Mladenovic.
World number one Ashleigh Barty plays the second singles rubber on Saturday on the hardcourts of Perth Arena against Caroline Garcia.
Those four players will also be part of the reverse singles on Sunday before a potentially decisive doubles clash, where Stosur will partner Barty against Garcia and Mladenovic.
It was a bold move by Molik as Australia bid for a first Fed Cup title in 45 years, with Stosur a veteran of 16 years of Fed Cup action, but struggling in singles in recent times.
In contrast, Tomljanovic has had a good year and spent most of it inside the world's top 50.
The seven-time champions have not tasted success in the tournament since 1974, while France are aiming for a third crown and first since 2003.
The finale marks the last Fed Cup final played under the current format, with an overhaul next year seeing 12 nations compete in a six-day event in Budapest.
Barty comes into the decider in red hot form, winning the WTA Final in China last weekend and she has made clear her season will only be complete if she can steer her country to Fed Cup glory.
The omens don't bode well -- Australia have lost the last eight Fed Cup finals they have contested since winning their last one in 1974. (AFP)
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